Last Sunday, I got up early and wanted to connect with my maker. I didn’t go to church, instead, I went to a marketplace far off my house, a stone throw to the road that leads out of town, which was what my mind told me to do. I followed my instinct and took a small basket. I didn’t intend to buy anything really, I just wanted to experience God early in the morning and I didn’t know why I choose a market place.
I stopped a cab that took an excited me to the market, my first stop was an old woman that sells fish and she greeted me warmly “My beautiful daughter, how are you this morning? How is your mother?” I replied “She is fine; she sends her greetings to everybody”. I never met this woman before and neither has she met my mother. I took a close look at what she had to sell and I was not interested. I tactfully replied her before she concludes I may buy “Mama, fish is not on my list today, I just stopped at your stall to wish you well”. She replied me too “No worries my daughter, Go well, but when the sun get too hot and your feet hurt, come back and sit with me for a while, so you can rest before going home”. I smiled and walked off.
“I still don’t know why I’m here”, I told myself as I moved through the stalls, then I heard an elderly woman call me “ Sisi, Cassava flour nko?”. I also replied “No ma”. Then she spitefully replied me while turning her face away “With her painted nails and tiny palms, How will she buy it when she doesn’t look like one that can prepare a meal, spoilt girls of nowadays sef”. I also smiled and moved on, so much for unsuccessful marketing.
I stopped at the stall where chicken is sold and bought some; I’ll make stew out of this when I get home, since I didn’t really come to the market to buy anything anyway. I paid the young woman at the store, it took a while before she could figure out how much my balance was, she fiddled with the naira notes until I calculated it for her and told her how much she needs to give me after purchasing the chicken. I left the stall and in my mind I ask again “God, What I’m I doing here?”. There was no response; I must have been a silly child for thinking God will reply with a hefty voice like they do in the movie.
When I heard nothing, I looked up and decide to heard home, maybe God has spoken and I didn’t hear, maybe. Then I saw the woman that greeted me and wanted to sell fish the other time, for no apparent reason, I stopped to greet her again before heading home, she was pretty nice when I came in, so why not? “Mama, I hope you have sold well? I’m on my way home now; I just stopped to greet you again before I head home”. She gleefully replied “Oh my daughter, what a good woman you are, thank you. Will you rest for a while before you start out again, is your back not hurting you?. I don’t know what happened but I couldn’t resist the offer, I found myself settling down beside this elderly woman I just met that day in an open market. Sitting in a smelly damp market is not a particularly nice environment but I found this woman enchanting.
She started the discussion “My daughter, fish is very expensive nowadays, to but from the fisherman is expensive, to sell to people is another wahala? People just don’t believe you when you tell them they can’t buy fist they way it was sold last month, may God help us”. “Oh! She knows God!”. That’s cool, I smiled inside.
Then she continued “You remind me of my daughter, she’s as thin as you are, always avoiding food with her long neck” she poked at me”. I smiled “Mama! Haba! It’s not our fault that we girls are thin, we just eat what our stomach can take, and we will definitely grow robust when the time comes”. She replied me “That is what she used to tell me too, until….the lord took her”. I shuddered “Mama, took her ke!? Where is she now?”
She loosened the edge of her wrapper and cleaned a tear that ran down her cheeks, she continued “It was two years ago, she woke up one morning, dressed up beautifully and said she was going to see a friend” A customer stopped at the stall this time and purchase something, I was thankful as she had to quickly hide her grief and relate with the customer. She continued without tears after the customer left, “Like I said, she went to her friend house and her friend took her to another friend’s house, a young man and I think they became friends. “I remember I had a peaceful daughter, no word comes out of her mouth when she is angry, that’s if she ever gets angry, she always listens to me, just like you are doing now.
came home very happy that day and told me “Mama, I just met a new friend, a young man, you will like him when you see him”. I didn’t want to meddle in her affairs and let her enjoy her frenzy; after all she was a young woman.” But I noticed some months after, she stooped being proud of her beauty, I remember I asked her why she always looked withdrawn and she would reply me in cold words “Why will I be dressing up just like that? Why? Mama, leave me alone, my beauty has done more harm than good to me” And one day, she dressed up and I really commended her how bright she looked and she simply smiled “Pray for me, I’m going to find my joy”.
I didn’t understand and about an hour later, she ran back home, banging the doors and screaming. “Mama! Mama! I now know why, he doesn’t care about me again, another girl lives with him, I saw her there, and he ordered me out of his house because I didn’t ask him before coming, Mama! I’m dead! He has used me!” She was shaking profusely, I held her as much as I could, I pretended not to understand, and maybe I can calm her down while managing my own shock too.
“And like lightning, she ran into the kitchen, hid something in her skirt and ran into her room, locking the door behind her. I hit the door several times, she did not answer and I called on a neighbor to force the door open, what I saw marked the beginning of dark days of my life.” “She laid flat on the ground, with the knife she hid in her skirt while she ran out of the kitchen into her room, sticking right from her stomach, she has stopped breathing.” “I went blank and I remembered I cried for days and blamed myself for bearing a child and watching her die”.
A customer came again and purchased a huge fish with bulging eyeballs, with a little bit of haggling; Mama agreed to a price and sold it to the strong headed customer. The she turned to me and let out a smile, “Not to worry, I am well now, God has healed me, he is taking care of the remaining I have, I’m fine now, God is my strength”.
The sun was bright this time, burning so high, the ice on the fish she was selling has melted out but I stood up and told her “Mama, it’s time to go, my people at home will be looking for me now”. She replied me, “My daughter, go well. You are a blessing, you bring relief and life with you, and you’ve done what my daughter would have done if she was here, thank you” I stepped out of the stall, turned and told her “Mama, the lord is Our strength”. Amen.
Writer – “Oyinade is calm, passionate and detailed. She enjoys writing, traveling, listening to people and paying attention to her environment & colours. A brand executive, she constantly strives for quality, excellence, integrity & accountability. She currently works full time with a leading marketing communications firm in Lagos Nigeria.” Check her blog at www.topazandaqua.com
Photocredit – Photodisc